tv The Steele Report NBC January 3, 2016 10:00am-10:30am CST
i've brought back with us this time my two go-to guys for the iowa legislature. i'll introduce them -- they don't need an introduction, of course, but i'll introduce them to you. senator jeff danielson, wrong time cedar falls firefighter representing senate district 30 in black hawk county which includes portions of waterloo, cedar falls and hudson. over ten years in the senate now. >> sen. danielson: where does the time go? >> ron: that's right. and state representative walt rogers with us, the assistant majority leader, is that right? >> rep. rogers: that's right. >> ron: the democrats have a slight lead in the senate and this is iowa house district representative, republican, which includes seed czar falls, parts of black hawk county and again including hudson. let's go real quickly, walt, i'll start with you. what is the 86th general
what would you like to accomplish? ing with -- >> rep. rogers: the top two issues, number one is going to be budget, making sure that we have a budget that is sustaining everything we're trying to do and not spending more money than we take in and that seems to be really the big kind of argument or tug of war every year as far as how much are we going to utilize of that budget. and so we've been strug lingt past two or three years as far as revenue as a state, and really, i shouldn't say struggling. not as much as we'd like to. that's going to be the big issue. and then, you know, medicaid-managed care is something we're talking about a lot. the feds decided to postpone that until march 1st. i don't know if that's a good or bad thing, but that gives us more time to talk about things and try to get that transition as smooth as possible for people
>> ron: senator dnlson, what do you think? >> sen. danielson: i think wofrs and economic development. our economy is still doing fairly well. other states would love to be iowa, but there's challenges there. if we focus on workforce and jobs, that's an issue. healthcare, that transition has not gone well and that has budget implications for us, and finally education. university of northern iowa and many of our education institutions here had very good years last year in terms of the legislative support and we want to continue that. those three will probably guide us as we go forward. you know we have a 99% spending law in iowa. we live within our means. the real question is where do you prioritize those investments. >> ron: and these guys, i like having them on the program together because i'm the only guy i think in journalism history has had two mistaken winners. i had waltz winning twice when
ended up winning. do you still hold that against me? >> not at all. how could you? you're ron steele. >> ron: i guess we can say not all the votes were counted. you both are in the legislature, you have the experience and knowledge to know what needs to get done and how to do it. i think that's the thing, in talking with other people in the legislature, like when liz mathis first started, learning the ropes and how to get involved and how all this works and one of the things i want to talk is about how do we get to the medicaid expansion and now we're into the privatization debate and one of the companies being talked about, well care, anyway, looks like they're going to appeal, but give me a brief overview of how we got from that point to this point where we are today with the delay and some of the controversy around that. >> a real brief overview is medicaid is the fastest expanding part of our government, 11% in the past couple years and it continues to grow.
care of iowans, but we have to address this increasingly fast expansion of cost, and so if we don't do anything, i think that's really a dereliction of duty as representatives if we just let it continue status quo. so 39 states around the country have looked at some type of managed care process of privatization and that's what we're looking at too. at the end of the session last year, we agreed to do and the governor moved forward on it. i think it's a wise thing for us to do. we can talk about, you know, how well the transition has gone and certainly we need to make that as smooth as possible, but i think if we do nothing, that would be a bad thing, so we're trying to save costs and it's potentially could save up to $51 million every year that it's there, potentially more than that, so i think in the long run, it will be good for iowans if we can implet this in the right -- implement this in the right way and make sure we're as
>> ron: on the democratic side, senator, i think liz mathis and others have really been pushing for this delay and then trying to stop it, really, i guess, in some ways. is that a democratic view across the state or just isolated? >> sen. danielson: to me it's a checks and balances issue. it's really the legislature relative to the executive branch, so governor branstad decided to do this unilaterally and it's no install program. it's 4 -- small program. it's $4.2 billion in iowa's economic interest and a lot of families who cannot afford anything else, either elderly iowans who worked their whole lives and their money has run out, so we help subsidize their housing, and also families with severe developmental disabilities who end up being the caretakers of their relatives and then medicaid helps support them throughout
day respite in places like north star and epi. a very important program that ordinarily most iowans hear the word make and they don't realize that. we wanted in the legislature to be a part of that decision. the governor made a unilateral decision to move to privatization and did it in a way that no other state had done it, given the timeline, basically, from announcing the idea. some of the mistakes, the contracting, the disruption of the service providers, the families not knowing, could have been made better if the that process. that's was we're saying, help us help you. no governor knows it all, so in this case, there were a lot of experience, including on the republican side of the aisle process. i think most iowans, once they know that, understand then that
relationship going forward. and we want it to be. >> ron: do you think that overall privatization is a good idea? i guess that's the question i'm wondering, or do democrats think it should way within iowa? >> sen. danielson: we could have had a test. we could have contracted for those services and figured out if you could save costs, but the governor himself has already admitted that the price of the four contracts is higher than their currently paying for the ime enterprise to be the gate keeper for those services. and when you have a change process that has an involved buy-in in the first place, it's incredibly disruptive, so we know there's friction costs when you have change. i've led some of those things in the senate, especially after the recession, and when you can include others in that process, it makes it smoother and you actually can try to save money. i think it's an open question of whether we will save money. those are the things that we'll
>> ron: walt, do you think that -- were the republicans rank keled by this too, the unilateral decision more or less on the part of the governor, the governor's office? >> rep. rogers: a couple things. no one who presently has coverage is going to lose their coverage. we have a great potential to save money and, you know, i think if jeff was honest and this was a democrat governor doing the same thing, they will probably be a little more onboard. >> sen. danielson: i've already said publicly that regardless of whether our governor as republican or a democrat, a unilateral decision by the executive branch that told the legislative branch, we don't necessarily need you as part of this decision, is wrong, whether you're a republican or democrat. >> rep. rogers: i do believe it's going to be a good thing for iowa. like i said at the start, we have to do something. we have to get the increasing cost uncontrol. yeah, it's going to be a tough
this extra two months will be a good thing for the whole transition and we'll be saving some money and making it more efficient in the end. >> ron: what about those who already signed up with well care? what's their situation? >> sen. danielson: they're in limbo. the providers that they work with, the iowans that are eligible for medicaid, the providers that they work with cannot steer them to another contract. so that individual iowan and their family is going to have to decide whether to leave wellcare on their own in the next couple of weeks, month, and pick one of the other three, or stick with wellcare because wellcare is not going to go away. they're going to challenge the recent decision by the governor's das director to kick the contract out, basically, because they weren't honest about previous fraud. so that's the point, ron. if you're going to make a huge
danielson and state representative walt rogers, both cedar falls, serving this area for quite a number of years now, all told. every year, the legislature has to come up with a plan to pay our schools so that they can stay in business, but it always seems like the k-12 funding issue goes on and on and on, and sometimes beyond the deadline that the schools themselves have to meet. that's a problem for a lot of school districts. how do you deal with that, and is that a better way to do this that's fair for all the schools and for the taxpayers? >> rep. rogers: well, i think you make it a priority and a first decision, which is basically what the state law says. after the governor gives his state of the state speech, in 30 days you're supposed to pass what's basically the state partnership with the local schools, k-12. we're not the complete budget, the local level has to do some things too, but make it a priority and don't delay that decision.
problems with our own budgeting process because people want to know what that number is, but also march 15th is the budget deadline for all of our local schools according to our state law. so my hope is we go back to the iowa way, which was making that decision first in accordance with the law, whatever the number is, this isn't rocket science. we only have so much new revenue and you have to make some priority decisions, but don't cause the process to go on unduly and make people have to wonder until the middle of the summer. >> rep. rogers: i would agree with that. >> ron: you guys agree on something. i want to write this down, they actually agree on something. sorry. >> rep. rogers: we agree. it's how do we get there that's sometimes the problem. and jeff said, we only have so much new money. we have $153 million of new
some of the built-in things we already have are above 200 million, and that's before we pay the k-12 schools. so we have to make stuff decisions on our new revenue funding. here's an interesting thing. there's a 2% allowable growth state aid bill sitting in the senate right now cl, we already passed. last year at end of session, we passed it a sent it to the senate. they could pass it right now send it to the governor. >> sen. danielson: we also followed the law and sent one over that was 4%. >> rep. rogers: therein lies the -- we passed a two and they sent one over with a four. >> ron: what's the revenue carryover from last year? >> sen. danielson: remember the governor vetoed the money we all agreed to to help the local schools in this budget year. he vetoed that, so we have to go back and have that conversation again. >> rep. rogers: they aren't
that's 84 million. we only have 152 million new money. >> sen. danielson: walt just said something interesting. he said we only have 153 million in new money. that's our revenue estimating conference for new resources. the reality is if you use the 99% spending limitation law, that number is closer to about 250. the senate democrats and the governor have both been using that number to craft their budget. the house republicans have a new definition of fiscal responsibility. it's roughly 94 -- very important because your listeners are going to see this back and forth. you know, they have a right to do that. it's not the state law. it's their new idea of fiscal responsibility. 94, 95% of our revenues that come in. that means there's $100 million difference between the governor and the senate democrats when we come into the session relative to the iowa house republicans. and we will have to resolve
limitation has served us well. iowa gets great grades on budgeting and managing their own money, and so therein is a really big difference before you even talk about how you're going to invest it in education or job creation. and iowans need to pay attention to that. >> rep. rogers: let me explain it. what we're saying is let's not spend more than we take in. jeff is right, we could spend the ending balance if we want to and go all the way up to another couple hundred million dollars. the problem is, if we do that, there's nothing left except for the emergency fund, so if we have another bad revenue year, we have to dip -- our balance, the savings account, essentially, will be gone, and we have to dip into the emergency funds to pay bills and by law, we have to pay the emergency funds back the next year. that's why we think this is a better fiscal responsible way. it's not dipping into the ending balance funds because the past three years, we've had to use that just to pay bills the end
weren't as good as expected. >> ron: i thought the revenue estimating numbers were down going to into the session. >> they are. >> sen. danielson: i think iowans need to know our economy is still growing. we've come down from 5 or 6% to 4%. we have less resources, but we always pass a budget that lives within our means. the question is how much are we going to hold for the future? >> ron: so education is obviously a huge issue. it's the most important issue perhaps. are there other things you want to do, accomplish in semester -- semester. well, maybe it is. >> the legislature is in school. >> ron: in the session that go beyond education. was wla would you say are those top priorities, walt? >> rep. rogers: those are two big things. we're obviously going to have a fight about funding planned parenthood again and the stage
a lot of people saw the videos that were out that took place and planned parenthood buying and selling body parts of aborted fetuses. so that's is something on the table and a lot of people in republican ranks that just feel that taxpayer dollars should not go to an organization that does that. so that will be a definite fight, and, you know, we have a lot -- many of our caucus, who will stand firm on that issue this year . >> ron: how much would that be in iowa? >> it's $3 million. we fund those women's health issues with state dollars and we would sacrifice some federal dollars for that, but we -- women's health issues would not be any -- would not be -- lose out in any way because we would fund them. we just wouldn't have any state money going to a planned parenthood institution. >> sen. danielson: and i think that would be a shame, to be
this is an issue that people have very strong opinions on and we should not hold up our budgeting process because of that. and in the $7.4 million budget, certainly not over $3 million line item with a federal partnership that matches some of that money. my focus, and i think iowans' focus is going to be on job creation and economic opportunity. we are in a soft patch right now in iowa's economy. we have a john deere lay-off, corn, soybean commodity prices are down. we're going to have invest in some of our workforce improvements and we've got good partners in this area, hawkeye community college. our k-12 schools, look out for this issue in this session, career and technical education where we smooth the transition from high school to community college to universities, and increase the relevance of our kids in school. waterloo has one of the lowest
we're losing those kids. economically, we're losing them, and so this session, there's going to be some proposals about how to improve high school to college transition and it will be a workforce investment that i think we can all get behind. >> ron: that's really at the heart of the waterloo vote in february about the new career center. it's really going to be something. that's what you guys are talking about here. we have to take one more break. we'll come back and continue our
>> ron: and welcome back to our final segment this week of the steele report. senator jeff danielson, state representative walt rogers here. we have a lot of campaigning going on in iowa, you know, the caucuses coming up. it's an election year. what does that mean as far as people within the legislature positioning themselves for re-election and does that stall getting things done, i guess is the main thing? that's the question. >> well, i think you certainly can't ignore it. especially the caucus process. we're all involved. we should be as iowans, so we have campaign fever, if you will. >> ron: exactly. >> we will be fully into that when the session starts. the caucuses will happen three weeks after our start date, so we'll all be paying attention to that. you also have our own local campaigns that will come up the following fall, and i can't underscore enough that the vetoes and the unilateral decisions of governor branstad have made it harder for both
capitol to forge some of those agreements. those were vetoes that republicans voted for too, so i see this next session as both an opportunity to focus on your local/regional issues, the cedar valley is our political party in that sense, make sure that the stuff that we're trying to work on can get passed and funded. and then try not to get involved in all those other things inside the capitol because, to be quite frank, campaigns are won back home anyway. >> ron: so in some ways, it's kind of like what the republican governor is doing, kind of like the democratic president has done with the executive orders, just going off on their own, so to speak? >> rep. rogers: that's a great point. jeff night say president obama has taken leadership with some of his executive orders and done some good things. from a different perspective, i think governor branstad has done some good things and taken an issue head-on. you know, there might be some
unilaterally and without consulting everybody else. i don't believe he did that. i think it's an issue that we have to address, but getting back to, you know, what we're looking forward to, presidential politics is kind of exciting for iowa. i've been around the whole state with senator santorum and this state is really something. the people involved in all the politics and all the president's campaigns are -- it's really quite a privilege for us as a state to be the number one in the nation, and iowans take it pretty seriously, so it's exciting to be part of that. it's also exciting for all of our individual campaigns as we get done with this session, to get stwak into our districts and go door to door and talk to people and see what they think about things. i'm looking forward to the door-to-door stuff. >> ron: it was great to have senator santorum on this program not too long ago. you get that up close and personal relationship with all the candidates, both republicans and democrats. quickly? what would you like to accomplish this session?
like to hang your lat on? >> sen. danielson: well, i like the cte, continuing technical education, or career technical education. >> ron: on a regional basis, correct? >> sen. danielson: yes, on a regional basis state programs. it will help faemtion and it will regionalize and strengthen this area. i think we're the education capital of iowa when you look at the teachers college at uni, so that is very important and i think that will be a bipartisan issue that get and lot of strong support. >> rep. rogers: i think job focus is very key and something we do agree on, that we have to focus on that and help our community colleges and high schools transition workers into the work place and i think we'll come out of this session with something good. >> ron: some of the other key issues that always come up, medical marijuana, i assume that again is not going to go anywhere? do you have personal feelings about that, by the way?
it's a part of a regulated process and we know that the product is safe and there's a medical reason to do it, i have been supportive of that. but i'll tell you, hot button issues are what they are. each of us does our homework, knows our district and tries to come up with a decent iowa decision. there are others who kind of are around the edges, like to generate what i call manufactured drama. these days. i try to be a problem solver. >> ron: medical marijuana, a lot of families said it's still not helping us enough. they need more. i wonder if there's any way to push that through for the families that need help. >> i've been pretty open about my stance on it. i'm not in any way for recreational marijuana. i would like to see us go through the process, but appropriately, not too fast. we have to be careful. this is a drug that does serious damage to people, so let's make sure we do the process correctly